Nuclear Birds in the Everglades: The 2nd Missile Battalion 52nd Air Defense Artillery: 1962-1979


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By: Charles D. Carter

Nuclear Birds in the Everglades provides a concise narrative and photographic history of the 2nd/52nd from 1959 through 1983. A brief history is detailed of the beginnings of the Cold War followed by the events that dovetailed into the Cuban Missile Crisis including the attack on the Moncado Barracks in 1953, the revolution and overthrow of the Cuban Government in 1959, America's sanctions against Castro's Cuba in 1960, the failed CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs Invasion, and Russia's installation of ICBMs in Cuba in 1962. America's response brings Army units that have trained and prepared for rapid-response to anywhere in the world within 72 hours. These units included the Army's 82nd and 101st Airborne units, the 1st Armored Division and a Marine division to south Florida for an invasion of Cuba. Additionally, the 2nd Nike Hercules Missile Battalion and two HAWK missile battalions create an air defense network to defend against nuclear-capable Russian IL28 Beagle bombers from Cuba. President Kennedy isolates Cuba from the rest of the world as he tightens the noose with a naval blockade. As Russia stands down and removes its ICBMs, the decision is made to keep Army air defense missiles in south Florida for an undetermined period. Now, temporary becomes permanent but with many obstacles including heat, humidity, non-stop mosquitoes, lack of electricity and running water. In a battery-by-battery chapter, it chronicles the obstacles overcome by the men and their missiles and the many positive memories for over 3000 soldiers who were stationed there between 1962 and 1979. It includes the relocation back to Ft. Bliss before being deactivated in 1983. The unit history is a means of recalling long-forgotten events and rekindling ties of comradeship. The final chapter provides a detailed description of a Florida Nike site including the configuration, the equipment, and it's function. Finally, the actual firing sequence of a Nike Hercules missile.